Today is the day! Hopefully this will hold you off more until I can finally talk about our Florida trip with photos, because I’m still in hard drive clearing mode, and I’m still in mind-clearing mode. I’m still putting all the delicate pieces together.
I did the shoot the day after Christmas. This baby was only TWO DAYS old, and her mother was only TWO DAYS postpartum. It was her third baby and all, but holy crap, I’ll have what she’s having! I do know how to edit faces, and I did not edit her face.
We were going to head back home from New Jersey the day after Christmas, but found out that my sister had gotten tickets to “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” through her work, and wanted to take Scarlet. So faced with an extra day in New Jersey, I threw it out there on Facebook that I had an extra day and wanted to know if anyone could meet for coffee, or have a photo shoot! This may seem presumptuous of me but people back home ask me quite a bit, and I occasionally go back to New Jersey just to do photo shoots. It’s great for my business, it’s flattering as all heck, AND, I get to see friends.
I always get nervous for photo shoots. You all know this. Even though it was a friend from high school, I hadn’t seen her in about four years. I also am not that experienced with newborns, but shh… don’t tell anyone that! I’m getting my footing.
I went off on my merry way to the house, only to find a surprise. I used to deliver pizza when I was in college. For years now, I’ve had a recurring dream about a specific neighborhood back there with lots of sloping driveways and beautiful houses. I have a lot of clear memories of being in that neighborhood, even though it’s been about 15 years. When my GPS took me to this neighborhood for the photo shoot, I was in shock that my recurring dream neighborhood had come back into my life.
I knocked on the door, was welcomed in by my beautiful friend, immediately remarked on the brilliant light in the house, put down my bag, and just started shooting without thinking. I may have still had my jacket on but I started shooting nonstop.
The rest of the shoot was as smooth and lovely as could be. I am generally chatty and comfortable with all clients, but of course it was an old friend so we talked a lot and I had fun with her two older daughters. There was no original plan to have the sisters in the photos, or even the mother, but as you’ll soon see, newborn shoots (and all shoots) rely on a few elements to decide the direction they will take. Later that night, I started jotting down notes of what made my newborn shoot so successful. Or so I assumed. I’m still very insecure until I’ve sent my photos and received happy reviews. That’s. The. Best.
And other than incredible clients, and my complete and utter enthusiasm for this career, I made a little list of what I need for a successful newborn photo shoot. I’m sure it varies with each photographer, but I have my own quirks and my own style.
1. Be prepared with equipment. I had no idea how much light I’d have, but I was lucky it was a lot. Still, I had umbrella lights, a speed-lite, and a Fong diffuser. I had no idea how much space I’d have to work in either, so I came with four lenses!
2. Be patient. This works for ANY photo shoots with kids (and some adults), but babies may need to eat or poop, or eat and poop at the same time. The newborn photo shoot will generally have outfit changes. Talk it over first with parents to see if you can bring any props or materials, or if they’d rather use their own. Personally, I don’t carry around a bunch of random baby items, because I personally like the ones that are special to a specific family – blankets they came home in, headbands that match their eyes, or other items purchased personally for them! That’s just me, though! Many photographers have props.
3. Follow the baby’s lead. You could spend three hours trying to get a baby in a basket or on a blanket, and the baby can scream the whole time. In our shoot, the baby was happiest in her mother or sisters’ arms.
4. Focus on little details too. I was lucky because I happened to be traveling at the time, but also borrowing a macro lens from a friend. I had the 100mm 2.8. It seemed cosmic to have it and a waste not to use it!
5. Be safe. Not all baby poses are safe to use. If a baby wouldn’t naturally pose with its head in its hands, or anything else uncomfortable or potentially dangerous, don’t do it! It’s not worth it. Babies should be safe and sound.
**And lastly, the number one thing to keep in mind for a newborn photo shoot? Follow your instinct and what’s in your heart. I was traveling and this was last minute. I had to arrange little details, but when I walked into that home, I instantly knew that my heart was already working. My mind was already working. I was already composing. For me, since I know the technical aspects of photography like the back of my hand, I don’t think so much about them when shooting. Obviously, aperture is very important. So is shutter speed. My mind keeps them firmly in place, while mostly focusing on letting what develops come naturally and safely. As I said before, the mother thought the photos might just be the baby. And as the day went on, she found herself in a lot of photos, and so did her other two girls! I honestly couldn’t have seen it any other way.